URBANA – This week, the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign community joined together to celebrate past loved ones for the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) at the University YMCA.
Day of the Dead is celebrated from November 1-2. Celebrations typically involve creating shrines to remember those who have passed away.
Chabeli Duran, a student staff member at La Casa Cultural Latina, says even though this celebration is centralized in Mexico, they welcomed all Latin American ethnicities and countries.
Duran says it is important to strengthen the connection between one’s culture, especially in a primarily white institution.
“We just need to continue having these events, to have these in the open,” Duran says. “So people can know like ‘oh, so these are traditions and cultures that are important to them.”
Frank Cabrera, a junior at the U of I who attended the event, says because of his background and culture, it was a new experience celebrating Day of the Dead.
“It was very difficult to take in at some point because I was discussing death, which is a subject that is not brought up in my culture. At one point, I had to take a break and that’s okay just because today means a lot for many people.”
Cabrera made a shrine honoring children who passed away while being overlooked by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
He says he hopes this event brings the community together and helps uplift the lives of those we’ve lost.
Duran says she hopes people treat Day of the Dead as a holiday in its own right, instead of relating it to Halloween.